This Blog covers nature sightings and related news in the Calderdale area.
It includes all groups - Plants, animals and fungi with links to specialist sites.
Anyone wishing to become a member of this Blog and post sightings please contact us.
If you would like to join the Halifax Scientific Society either email me or come along to the next meeting.
All welcome:
Please contact us about any sensitive records before posting on the blog

Friday, 31 May 2019

Ash trees are dying.

This year Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) has progressed from killing saplings and into mature trees. I hardly see any mature tree that is not showing dieback or is nearly dead; wherever I go.

In nearby limestone areas where Ash is a major component of the landscape, there will shortly be huge devastation. All the field trees will be gone and the landscape will be laid waste. We have been suitably warned about this and should have been planting field and boundary trees as replacements.  But this isn't happening.

No shortage of new 'woodlands' but trees are out of favour and forgotten.

Monday, 27 May 2019

This wool is alive

The bark of this tree has white waxy woolly areas, which has been secreted as a covering by the Felted Beech Scale insect (Cryptococcus fagisuga). It only inhabits Beech species.

No male insects have ever been found and fertilisation is not required for the offspring (parthenogenesis).

The scale insect makes small incisions and feeds on the soft tissues of the bark but does not cause serious damage to the tree. Damage occurs when the Nectria coccinea fungus spores gain entry to the tree through the feeding holes. This fungus then blocks the tree's vascular system, causing serious injury or death.

Damage was so serious that in 1902 the Rev. Wilks feared that --"Beech is doomed all over the country and the next generation will only know by pictures how gloriously beautiful our forest Beeches have been".

Look out for this often seen woolly covering and think what damage a tiny 1/16" insect can precipitate in such a huge tree.

Matt Grass

Matt Grass--Nardus stricta, does not advertise itself and is easily missed when growing in a meadow. But during flowering its white anthers capture attention.

Photo taken near Grassington

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Female Pied Flycatcher

The mate of the male posted last week. Today seen entering the nestbox.

Not such a great picture but shows her brown and white appearance. She has a bold white patch on each closed wing. Admittedly this might sound like the description of a female Chaffinch, but this small image maybe captures the typical flycatcher shape, 'sweet' face and beak. Noticed the ring?

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Beech seedlings

Many people see Beech tree cotyledons and wonder what plant they are. This is because they bear no resemblance to the 'true' leaves which grow a few weeks later.

In this photo you can see the cotyledons (which are not dependent on photosynthesis but use the stored nutrition in the seed for growth) and growing above them the beech leaves we all recognise.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Further to the Moorland Fires earlier post

Consultation of Public Space Protection Orders to prevent moorland fires

Following our previous email correspondence, we can confirm that we have added two additional drop in sessions next week, meaning we now have four sessions in total and continue to utilise social media and other outlets to promote our consultation.

Drop in sessions, where anyone is welcome to attend and share their views, will be held as below:

Tuesday 21st May, 5pm – 7pm at Ripponden Parish Council Offices
Saturday 25th May, 10am – 1pm at Ripponden Parish Council Offices
Sunday 26th May 1pm – 3pm at Todmorden Town Hall.

Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us in the Community Safety Team.

Sarah J Barker
Senior Community Safety & Resilience Officer

Public Services
Calderdale MBC
Spring Hall Mansion
Huddersfield Road

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Double Flowered Cuckoo Flower

Sadly we didn't find the Cuckoo Flower today.
It may flower at little later so could still appear.
Here are some pictures taken in 2015.

These aren't the tyical "Double Flowered" variety which has several layers of petals
An entire flower grows from the centre of the other

The grassland along this stretch of Black Brook has changed a lot in the last 12 months.
This was clearly once excellent unimproved grassland but had become rank,
covered in brambles, docks and thistles with a lot of scrub hawthorn and gorse moving in.
Much of that has now gone and cattle have been put on.
Hopefully this grassland will now return to it's former glory
and we may even find it a good Waxcap Fungi site in the Autumn.

Friday, 17 May 2019

A little beauty that returns in spring

These were photographed on 16th May in one of our Upper Calder Valley oakwoods.
It's not all that common in our area but now known in 3 or 4 cloughs, probably more if they are searched carefully, with ears ready for a slightly feeble repetitive little song.

Pied Flycatcher male

Same bird. He visited two boxes trying to get a female interested. 
We saw him mate with her but it was so quick I didn't get a picture. Females are brown and white.
They take readily to nestboxes. Taken with a compact Lumix DMC-TZ60

I saw my first Spotted Flycatchers of the year on the same day! First time I've got them both on the same day for a new season's sightings.

Friday, 10 May 2019


My first sighting of 6 swifts over Centre Vale at Tod; this teatime.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

A post from Hugh Firman, Calderdale Council

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO)

Working together to prevent moorland fires - everyone has a part to play

Calderdale Council is working proactively with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police to prevent moorland fires, but all agencies also depend on the vigilance and care of those who are out and about in our wonderful countryside to play an active part in protecting it.
To take part in the consultation and for more information, see: Moorland Fires and the PDFPublic Spaces Protection Order [PDF 706KB].
The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) replaced the:
This was introduced under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, on 20th October 2017.
If there is evidence of behaviour in a public space that has, or is likely to have:
  • an adverse effect on the quality of life of the community;
  • and the behaviour is persistent / ongoing and not reasonable;
a PSPO can be introduced by the Council. These can include specific behaviour restrictions and/or requirements for people to abide by, on any public space in question.
Note: All anti-social behaviour can be considered for a Public Spaces Protection Order, not just dog or alcohol issues.

Existing Designated Public Place Orders (DPPO) and Dog Control Orders (DCO)

The change to the law came into effect on 20th October 2017. From this time, current DPPO and DCOs were treated as provisions of a PSPO.
Signage for the DPPO and DCOs has been changed to help raise public awareness. The Council will review current orders and consider amending conditions by 20th October 2020. unless extended before this date, the orders will expire.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Halifax Scientific Society Ramble to Widdop Res on Sunday 5th May

We had nine walkers turn up to what was billed as a "tough in places" walk, tussock grass being the main obstacle to comfortable walking.
From the reservoir car park we crossed the road and went north over the moor to reach the line of rocks which mark the Scout.

Crowberry not yet ripe

After eating our packed lunches we retraced our steps partially, then regained the road half way along the reservoir. We walked for a short while along the road away from the car park then returned to the cars along the north shore. This side of the res has a long water channel which holds a colony of toads usually, though none were seen, nor the spawn or tadpoles. Later we saw about six dried road casualties near the car park so the colony does still exist. Earlier in the year some of us saw plenty of frogspawn along the channel.

The heather beetle, Lochmaea suturalis.
Can periodically occur in large numbers and devastate large areas of heather.

Green hairstreak, resting on bilberry

The final total was six Green Hairstreak butterflies,
being nicely photogenic in the cool temperature.

The Millstone Grit rock outcrop is spectacular in places,
including a large rocking stone discovered by one member, ever more to known as "Robinson's Rocker"

Larinioides cornutus, an upland relative of the garden spider, in its silken retreat.

Green-veined White

A Greylag gosling was panicking and stuck in a deep little stream until Annie rescued it. Here it is on the left regaining the safety of its parents and its only other other sibling on the reservoir.
Other birds seen were Common Sandpipers, Little Ringed Plovers, Short-eared Owl, Red Grouse, Kestrel, Willow Warbler, Stonechats, Reed Bunting, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, and the haunting call of  distant Curlews.

Widdop is one of our most scenic reservoirs.
Thanks for the great pictures and identification Julian.
Text by SB